Ryan Zinke and the Media Should Be Ashamed

I’ve written at length about Ryan Zinke’s shameless, hypocritical willingness to dishonestly criticize the Obama Administration for outing Navy SEAL Team Six, but somehow former Commander Zinke has upped the ante, suggesting, along with Fox News, that the Obama Administration caused Navy SEALS to die.

From the Fox story:

Shepard Smith: The parents say the Administration made their son a target by outing his unit as the one behind that operation.

Catherine Herridge: Billy and Karen Vaughn say that their son Aaron was filled with anger and uncharacteristic fear after Vice President Joe Biden revealed just two days after the raid that the Navy SEALS were behind it.

Karen Vaughn: “I can tell you one thing, SEAL Team 6 didn’t want to be identified,” she said. “Those men don’t need a pat on the back, they don’t work for that … everyone [Aaron] talked to [was] very angry.”

Zinke’s front group is promoting a conspiracy theory centered around the idea that exposing Navy SEALS threatened the lives of those responsible for the raid, even though Zinke himself outed the Navy SEAL Team Six a full day before anyone else did, presumably only to call attention to himself for political purposes.

The timeline is indisputable. A full day before Vice President Biden made his far less specific remarks, Mr. Zinke, who had firsthand knowledge of the unit, ran to local press to not only name SEAL Team Six, but to provide operational details about the raid.

If Zinke truly believes that Vice President Biden threatened the lives of American servicemen, doesn’t he owe their families and the nation an apology for his selfish, irresponsible self-promotion?

Don’t the media, who publish Zinke’s factually and morally challenged claims have an obligation to report this hypocrisy?

It would appear not.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • I had always thought that it went without saying but now I believe I was wrong. I know that it has happened but I have NEVER personally heard a real combat veteran offer up talk about war. This includes by late father-in-law ( a deorated S. Pacific WW2 vet ) and my brother-in-law a decorated Viet-Nam marine with several combat tours. I expect this militaristic BS from people like Romney and Obama ( and BTW, Neil Livingstone ) who have never served and do not have a clue what war is really about. Our Congress just recently made sure that if one overstated their resume in this regard that it was not actionable so the order of the day would seem to be “say anything”. I have my doubts that Zinke is half the hero he thinks he is and experience tells me his peers don’t respect him nearly as much as he would like to believe. Too bad he can’t remember his officer’s oath long enough to keep his mouth shut! I, for one, think that he should post his DD214 on line before he opens his mouth again.

  • So what you are alleging is that a leak exists and information was forwarded to Zinke before the anouncement was made on national television by the president after Bin-Ladens early demise? Or all of you guys on here just stupid as to the fact that Obama is a disaster for everyone in this country, including those that think his socialist agenda is just fantastic. You should be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Pogreba, however you are not a journalist, you are a blogger, and therefore, you can spout your ramblings and get a good 3 to 4 Hell Yeahs! from the peanut gallery. You want to impress yourself? Pull your head out of the sand and look at what this President has promised, and what he has delivered, The contrast is quite stark. He hides his past why? He promised that his administration would be the most open EVER, and it is anything but open. The man shifts blame, points fingers and is absolutely unaccountable for anything that he is directly responsible for, Definately not leadership material, and it shows. So he can talk well, not in my opinion, but that is just me, however to the masses of the simple minded, he is a Demi-god, the incarnate of something bigger than any and all of us, Pfft, whatever, His dereliction of his duties and responsibilities to the people of the United States of America is the most reprehensable tho, He is a poser, and you are all carrying the water for him, and when the meltdown happens, fingers will point at others instead of those that campaigned for the job.

    • I know this is terribly complicated to understand chronology (and paragraphing, apparently) but Zinke outed Navy SEAL Team Six a full day and a half before the remarks he criticizes Biden for.

      Once you learn how to tell the order of events in time, we can discuss the rest of your inane rant.

      The Chronology
      Sunday, May 1 at 11:35 p.m. EST President Obama publicly announced the death of Osama bin Laden at , only identifying the unit involved as a “small team of Americans.”

      Monday, May 2 at Morning Pentagon Briefing spokesperson refuses to confirm identity of unit involved.

      Monday, May 2 at 12:26 p.m. The Independent Record posts a story in which Zinke lists operational details about the mission and identifying Navy SEAL Team Six.

      On Monday May 2 at 4:26 p.m. MST the Bozeman Daily Chronicle posted an AP story quoting Zinke giving credit for the raid to SEAL Team Six.

      Tuesday, May 3 at 5:25 MST, Vice President Biden acknowledges that Navy SEALS were responsible, without identifying Team Six. He said, “He can tell you more about and understands the incredible, the phenomenal, the just almost unbelievable capacity of his Navy SEALs and what they did last Sunday.”

      Thursday, May 12: Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized the flood of news coverage that had become public through media reports.

  • Gentlemen – I may seem a touch biased, given that The Zinkster whose reputation you so gleefully impugn happens to be my stepfather. But the fact remains that I’m a moderate voter, not planning to vote Republican, a veteran myself (enlisted, Navy Diver, 2003-2008) and wife of a currently deployed Navy SEAL. Care for my two cents? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re willing to openly examine an alternative point of view. Don, I see the timeline that you’ve posted, and as posted, yes, it does look like a devastating indictment on my dad’s release of information. But Ryan is a retired SEAL – someone with no access to information above and beyond what is available to the general public. Even my husband, currently active in the teams, found out about SIX’s involvement from Google News (what can I say – we got sick and tired of cable television and cut the cord) or some other similar source. There’s no conspiracy here, fellas, and you sound a bit like the black helicopter yahoos when you start implying that Ryan, a state senator, for pete’s sake, had some sort of Red Phone to Damneck ringing him up in the dead of the night so he could claim all the political glory for the attacks. I mean, really? What is this, a Christopher Buckley novel?
    So – if you don’t mind, can we please use a little critical thinking, a little common sense before we start running around with our j’accuse finger pointing? Or, failing that, a little common courtesy?

    • His attacks on the president are treasonous. That’s all. Serving in the military confers NO special status on anyone. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Guys my age grew UP among the greatest generation. They were our teachers, our coaches, our parents, our mentors, and our role models. They flew B-17’s, parachuted during D Day, fought on islands, survived prison camps, were wounded horribly, and on and on. Yet never ONCE did I hear any of these TRUE American heroes whine like zinke does! They simply did their duty and moved on with their lives! What the f*ck is WRONG with the dude?!

      So, I realize that you’re probably quite young, but there was a very DIFFERENT time in America when TRUE military heroes did not spout their nonsense as if they were sumthin’ special. Sumthin’ real wrong with a dude who’s still bouncin’ off his military service to get ahead. Sumthin’ stinky, and rhymes with ZINKE!

      Vietnam vet.

      • Vet,
        I think your greatest generation is now in second place to this current generation who has been at war far longer than your generation. They are dedicated and far smarter than your generation. I’m a retired vet myself and I see these kids and they are dedicated and far superior. You are leaving out a lot of whiners in your generation. True American heroes exist now and I worked with many of them and they are young, smart and we are starting to see these guys run for office. The country will be in better hands and better than your generation who are in office now destroying this country with huge debts.


        • Wow. Coherent much? That was truly remarkable. Scary to think that you were in the military. Please tell me that you were a cook, and not allowed to carry a gun. I’ll feel much better knowing that I can have some confidence in our military.

    • Jennifer,

      I appreciate the comment, but I don’t think I am the one who you should be asking for a little common courtesy. Mr. Zinke has accused the Administration of endangering servicemen for releasing information that he himself released days before they did.

      The honorable thing to do would be to apologize to the President and the Vice President, but instead, Mr. Zinke has doubled down, posting a story that suggests VP Biden led to the death of the team’s members.

      And he did have specific information from SEALS, as he told the Independent Record:

      “Zinke said he had no advance knowledge of the raid on the bin Laden compound on Sunday, but was getting phone calls and emails Sunday night from former SEALs who knew people involved with the mission.”

      I understand your desire to protect him, but he did exactly what you say he didn’t.

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